Years into your professional and personal life may pass before you realize something isn’t quite right. Given that daily activities, must-do’s, and relationships with others can bring on their stressors, distinguishing what is normal and expected from what isn’t typical behavior or experiences to everyone can be difficult.
If you begin to realize aspects of your life may be unhealthy, there may be a mental health issue at play. Circumstances that often lead to suspicion of mental health issues include fighting excessively with a significant other, frequent bouts of anger or sadness, feelings of being unable to cope with daily life, Mood swings that fluctuate widely between high-energy productivity, and very-low energy sluggishness or depression. These are just a few indicators that mental health conditions may be at play. Getting help for the problem
Once you realize there may be a problem, seek confirmation. A mental health professional will administer various assessments such as a bipolar disorder test, depression/anxiety assessment, and others. Getting assessed for mental health disorders can’t hurt you; it will only help. If you don’t have a mental health disorder, then you may need to make simple but significant changes in your life. If a mental health disorder is at play, you’ll now understand why you’ve been feeling the way you do, and you can start making changes to live productively with your mental illness.
Managing the problem
Now that you understand the primary contributing factors behind your unhappiness, you can begin managing those factors effectively. Eliminate stressors that bring no added value to your life and make room to manage those stressors you can’t avoid. Here are some helpful steps you can take to manage work, school, and mental illness.
Simplify Your Life
Working full-time, attending school, and living with mental illness can take up all of your time reasonably quickly. While removing work, school, and indeed — mental illness isn’t possible, you can get rid of other factors that just add stress. These factors include extra activities associated with volunteering or giving away your time to others because of your reluctance to say no for fear of judgment. Assess what in your life you must keep and what can go. A simplified life will afford you the mental space to establish healthy habits to keep your well-being in optimal condition.
Find Ways to Decompress
Hobbies or other activities that fill you up are necessary to counteract those other activities that deplete you. For example, someone who works a mentally demanding job 40 hours a week may feel drained by the time Friday rolls around.
On Saturdays and Sundays, they may get outside to bike ride or spend the day reading books by their favorite author.
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What you choose to do to decompress doesn’t matter, as long as it replenishes you regularly.
Take One Day at a Time
Managing work, school, and mental illness is highly challenging. Some days you’ll feel like you can’t handle it all, while other days, you’ll feel much more positive about your abilities to juggle it all. Any time you have a bad day, remember that tomorrow is a new one. Leave yesterday behind you; it’s now in the irrelevant past. Wake each day knowing that this day is a new opportunity to use all of your coping mechanisms to find success personally and professionally.
Rely on Support Mechanisms
Don’t think you can juggle work, school, family, and mental health on your own. It takes a village or at least a small group of support to help individuals remain productive and healthy. On days that go well for you, you’ll want a support group with which to celebrate. When days are highly challenging or downright failures, you’ll need your support group with which to commiserate.
It does not matter what your support group looks like. It may be one friend and mental health professional. It may be a significant other and a sibling. It may be your pets. Don’t try and move through your life alone. Find someone – anyone to rely on for support.
Communicate with Yourself
As you’re juggling your busy life while living with mental illness, don’t forget to check in with yourself. Talk to yourself about how you’ve been feeling. Record your feelings in a journal. Or, just devote some time for quiet reflection on the last few days or weeks so you can assess how things are going and if anything is out of balance that needs to be addressed.
Keep A Routine
One of the most important things you can do to manage a busy life successfully and mental health issues is to stick to a routine. Establish what your typical weekday and weekend days may look like. Decide what you want to do and when, and stick to it. Sure, you can deviate from the schedule from time to time when unexpected events pop up. But, whenever you can, stick to a schedule that works best for you — one that leaves you feeling successful and in charge of managing your life.
Eat Well, Get Outside, and Sleep
Mentioning eating right, exercise, and ample sleep may seem like a no-brainer or a broken record. Still, these three things are crucial for maintaining a well-balanced life, especially when you’re living with mental illness. Food fuels your body. Putting nutrient-packed food in your body allows it to run efficiently, physically, and mentally. Outside time allows your body to recharge and soak up Vitamin D, which is essential to your body’s well-being. Sleep is vital for washing away toxins and restoring your brain.
Balancing work, school, and family is challenging for anyone — but incredibly complex for someone living with a mental health condition. Employ these steps to help keep your life productive and enjoyable.